Heading into this Game Five matchup against the Heat, the Nets were on their last leg at making a title run. LeBron James was coming off a 49 point performance in Brooklyn and the Nets found themselves in a 3-1 hole. They had two options: extend or be eliminated.
It didn't happen for the Nets and their $196 million roster.
They ended off the game on the wrong side of a 13-3 run by the Heat. Joe Johnson did all he could with 34 points, but the Nets inability to get off a shot down two with five seconds remaining lost them the game, 96-94. Game over. Series over. Season over. Nets lose in five games.
The Nets came ready to play in the first few minutes of the first quarter. They hit on their first four of five shots and looked to be playing a ton of urgency on both sides of the ball. Paul Pierce scored nine quick points, but when the Heat kept the ball out of his hands, the Nets struggled to find any offense.
They were up seven, but an 11-2 run spurted by Dwyane Wade had the Heat back in control. Wade finished the quarter with nine points.
Offensive lapses with a combination of silly turnovers has doomed the Nets the entire series. Since starting 4-5, the Nets finished the quarter 5-13 from the field, while committing four turnovers. They found themselves down 23-22 after the first quarter, despite the Heat shooting just 35% from the field. Their perfect numbers at the free throw line (9-9) kept them in control.
Dwyane Wade continued to be unconscious in the second quarter. He finished the half with 20 points on 7-12 shooting and had the Heat sticking right with the Nets despite their woeful 1-16 shooting from three point range. Wade logged 15 minutes, and was forced to check out around the five minute mark to rest his banged up knees.
Jason Kidd finally went with the 'super small ball' lineup containing Mirza Teletovic at the center position. They looked impressive as expected, due to the Heat's lack of size, and Andrei Kirilenko looked solid covering LeBron James. The Heat shot 1-16 from three and an overall 14-41 (34%) in the half, but their perfect 13-13 from the free throw line kept them alive. Even more impressive from Brooklyn's defense: LeBron James finished with nine points on just 2-7 shooting.
On the offensive side for the Nets, Deron Williams looked hesitant to fire away from the perimeter in the first quarter, but nailed two consecutive threes to keep the Nets ahead. Behind Williams' and Joe Johnson's 20 points combined, the Nets finished out the first half on a 8-0 run. They outscored Miami 27-19 in the quarter alone, and gathered all the momentum heading into the final 24 minutes of play.
The score at the half: Nets 49, Heat 42.
The Heat came out of the gate hot, going on a 7-0 run to tie the game, but the Nets answered with a 7-0 run of their own to match their halftime lead of seven. After getting the crowd back into the game and regaining the momentum, the Nets' strong resilience forced Erik Spoelstra to call an early timeout.
Every time the Heat looked to be taking control of the game, the Nets answered with a big shot or big stop of their own. Joe Johnson continued to play at a superstar level. He scored 12 points in the quarter and had 22 on the game on 10-15 shooting. With the shot clock expiring, Johnson nailed a huge three and gave the Heat bench a mean looking stare down. The urgency was in the air for the Nets, as they led 75-66 heading into the final quarter of play.
They weren't prepared for this to be the last 12 minutes of the season.
Once again, to start the fourth quarter the Heat came storming back into this game. Thanks to the resilient play of the Nets and Joe Johnson, they rose above the challenge and regained control of this game. Paul Pierce nailed a huge three as well to give the Nets a nine point lead with eight minutes remaining.
Quick note: Even though Joe Johnson attempted 17 shots, he was at the free throw line zero times. LeBron? 10 free throw attempts.
The Heat wouldn't go away. As the fourth quarter was established, Paul Pierce picked up his fifth foul, forcing him to check out earlier than usual. In came a cold Mirza Teletovic, and really, a stagnant offensive lineup for the Nets. Fortunately for them, they had Joe Johnson, who scored on four straight possessions (11 straight points) for the Nets.
Behind a 7-0 Heat run, the Nets lead was down to 91-90 with one minute remaining in the game. Four straight minutes without a bucket for Brooklyn. They had to hold on strong to keep their season alive.
With the Heat holding possession, Ray Allen nailed a huge three pointer with 32 seconds remaining. Following that, the Nets went with a Shaun Livingston post-up. He missed the shot on a strong attempt, and with two free throws from Ray Allen, the Heat lead was up to three.
Paul Pierce forced up a long three with limited time remaining. He missed the shot, but an offensive rebound from Livingston led to an eventual wide-open three from Joe Johnson.The three put the Nets down just one with 10 seconds remaining.
LeBron James went on to miss one of the two free throws, giving the Nets a chance to tie or win the game, down just two points. Wonder who was going to get the last shot?
They didn't even get a shot off. They forced the ball to Joe Johnson and LeBron James swiped the ball out of his hands, preventing him from attempting a shot. Game over. Series over. Season over.
Joe Johnson did all he could with 34 points on 15-23 shooting.
13-3 run for the Heat put the Nets out of their misery. Three points in the last five minutes will certainly send you golfing earlier than expected. And of course, -36 in the fourth quarter for the series is just the representation of how poorly the Nets closed out games in the five games.
Final score: Heat 96, Nets 94.
The Nets roller coaster season comes to an end due to their inability to close out games. They fought hard, but they have yet to play a full 48 minutes this series, which ultimately doomed them. A lot of questions will have to be answered this off-season. $195 million worth of questions.
For more on the Miami Heat, check them out at Hot Hot Hoops.
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- Blocked by Birdman (Video) - NBA.com
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